Great Totara Falls
Beloved New Zealand entertainer Sir Howard Morrison has died aged 74. Morrison was born in 1935 into a Rotorua family renowned for its entertainment skills. He had a singing career for more than 50 years, gaining fame as his Howard Morrison Quartet ran up a string of hits in the late 1950s and 1960s. In 1958 the Howard Morrison Quartet’s debut record Battle of Waikato/My Old Man’s an All Black sold a massive 78,000 copies. With tunes of wide appeal, such as How Great Thou Art, he went on to become known as New Zealand’s Mr Showbusiness and also embarked on many South-East Asian tours. In 1966 he had a lead role in the film Don’t Let It Get You, becoming a star of all performing media – stage, screen and television. In a New Zealand Herald editorial Howard Morrison is described as “a true pioneer of New Zealand popular music”. The editorial continues: “He was the face and singing voice of New Zealand when required for events such as an Expo overseas or a Commonwealth Games at home. He took a keen interest in national life and was not afraid to offer forthright opinions on it. He could be blunt as well as charming. Gary Bartlett, his musical director, had the good fortune to hear his signature performance of How Great Thou Art in front of the Queen. Said Bartlett, ‘The cascade of notes in the chorus was spine-tingling.’ Howard had a wonderful ability to connect with emotions and the audience …’ He was a man of all his people, his family, his iwi Te Arawa, his town, country, music, his profession. It is at the death of such a figure that we fully realise the presence he had and the gap he leaves. His memory should continue to inspire young performers and hold a valued place in the nation’s heart.” Morrison was married for 52 years to Rangiwhata Ann Manahi, known as Kuia. They had two sons and a daughter.
Sir Howard Morrison: 18 August 1935 – 24 September 2009